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Pm Gets Even Tougher With Late Payers – How An Invoice Management Solution Can Help

By Expert Author: Donald Nason

A press release from the Prime Minister’s Office last week included the message that David Cameron is determined to strengthen the crack-down on late-paying organisations.

The measures, announced with details of the National Insurance Contributions Bill legislation, are part of a package created to help boost business, the government aware that late payments continue to remain a major problem for many SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises).

Eighty five percent of SMEs say they’ve been affected by late payment during the last two years, a BACS sourced figure for 2013 gives £30.2 billion as owed to SMEs in late payments, and 11 percent of SMEs report that late payments have almost caused their business to go under.

David Cameron says, “It’s not right that suppliers are not getting paid on time for the work they do and the services they provide and I know that late payment can have devastating effects on our small and medium sized businesses... The government has already taken steps to help address this issue but I am clear that more needs to be done to build a business culture across all sectors of the economy.”

So what is the government already doing?

Businesses paid late can:
• Charge interest and a debt recovery cost;
• Seek redress through the Cabinet Office Mystery Shopper scheme for public sector contracts, with legitimate complaints posted online;
• Lodge a complaint against late payers signed up to the Prompt Payment Code and which will be investigated by the Institute for Credit Management, and can result in signatories being removed from the Code.

Plus protection has been set up for specific market sectors – for example the Groceries Code Adjudicator Act of June 2013 created the Groceries Code Adjudicator to ensure that supermarkets ‘treat their suppliers lawfully and fairly’.

The government is now looking at ways to:

• Encourage a greater sense of responsibility towards suppliers on the part of senior management and those at board level;
• Ensure greater access to information about the good and the bad payers;
• Encourage more businesses to make use of the interest legislation.

The government will also consider whether there are ways to strengthen the Prompt Payment Code, if there’s a case for further legislation and/or greater penalties, and whether SMEs can do more to help themselves including via the implementation of new technologies and services, such as electronic invoicing.
In his press release, the Prime Minister states, “Small business and entrepreneurs are the lifeblood of our economy and this government is firmly on their side.”

Which all add up to late payments set to become an increasingly serious problem for the late paying organisations – but one easily addressed with an invoice management solution.

Automatic document and data capture, high performance invoice matching, online coding and authorisation, mean the whole process is streamlined – and the vast majority of evidence points to late payment resulting not from deliberate policy but stemming from inefficient and slow manual processing procedures. Alerts flag approaching deadlines, and instant document retrieval means disputes can be resolved quickly.

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